Re-Organization and Layoff Discussion & Summary
Write responses to the following questions for the “Layoff plan moves forward at GE Transportation” article listed under the attachments section.  Each response must be at least 100 words.  I have also attached the course textbook PDF files for this class in order to help you answer the questions.What is the problem presented in the article?Why do you think it is the problem?What are some possible solutions?

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Attachments:Layoff plan moves forward at GE Transportation.pdf Critical Thinking, Ch 5.pdf Critical Thinking, Ch 6.pdf Critical Thinking, Ch 7.pdf Management, Ch 1.pdf Management, Ch 3.pdf_______________________________________________________________
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1. Layoff plan moves forward at GE Transportation…………………………………………………………………………….. 1
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Document 1 of 1
Layoff plan moves forward at GE Transportation
Author: Martin, Jim
ProQuest document link
Abstract: […]Duke said the union plans to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance or TAA, which provides widereaching benefits to employees who lose their jobs due to foreign competition.
Links: Check Document Availability
Full text: Nov. 03–The first of the layoff notices should be distributed Monday morning as third-shift employees
clock out for the night at GE Transportation.
It’s a move that’s been months in coming. The clock began ticking April 9 when the company announced plans
to eliminate 100 salaried positions and 950 union jobs at its Erie plant.
Now, after unsuccessful lobbying and failed negotiations aimed at saving jobs, the company’s plan for its first
round of layoff’s is moving forward.
GE Transportation, which said the cutbacks were prompted by a slowdown in orders and productivity concerns,
announced Sept. 3 that the first round of layoffs would affect about 500 employees.
The pink slips to be distributed Monday will give employees one-week notice of their layoff, said Scott Duke,
president of Local 506 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.
However, the initial layoff total might be slightly lower.
Jennifer Erickson, spokeswoman for GE Transportation, said about 50 employees are expected to retire instead
of taking a layoff.
For some, those decisions have been difficult to make, Duke said.
“It keeps changing,” he said. “They are saying yes (to retirement) and they are backing out. It’s a major decision
for some people.”
While each retirement had the potential to spare one layoff, Duke said he didn’t try to influence anyone’s
“That’s not my role,” he said.
In a statement from Erickson, the company acknowledged the significance of the job cuts.
“We are taking this difficult step to meet an increasingly challenging marketplace that requires us to reduce
costs and improve flexibility to maintain our competitiveness,” she said. “We understand how hard this action is
for everyone affected, including families and the broader community.”
She said the company is working closely with the state Department of Labor &Industry’s Rapid Response team
to help employees who lose their jobs.
Here’s a look at what the company is doing for displaced employees and the benefits they are entitled to under
the union contract:
– Rapid Response will be at GE Transportation on Tuesday to conduct an on-site job fair for displaced
employees and those with lower years of service. Representatives of local colleges and trade schools are
expected to attend as well as between 20 and 25 employers with plans to hire.
– Outplacement sessions will be held twice daily on Nov. 5, 12 and 19 in the auditorium of the Customer
Innovation Center. Information will be provided on unemployment, health insurance, continuing education,
retraining and other services available to affected employees.
– Instructional workshops will be held twice daily in the same building on Nov. 7, 14 and 21 to help employees
develop skills to navigate a job search.
– The UE contract provides for income extension equal to one week of pay for every year of service, with a
18 September 2015
Page 1 of 3
minimum of four weeks pay. Displaced employees also will receive a 12-month extension of their benefits,
including medical, dental and vision insurance.
– Employees also are eligible for a training allowance that provides up to $6,000 a year for approved classes.
Finally, Duke said the union plans to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance or TAA, which provides widereaching benefits to employees who lose their jobs due to foreign competition.
The union applied three times for TAA benefits before they were granted after a mass layoff in 2009.
“I feel good about it,” Duke said. “I don’t think the company is going to fight us.”
JIM MARTIN can be reached at 870-1668 or by e-mail.
Credit: Erie Times-News, Pa.
Subject: Shutdowns; Layoffs; Retirement; Cost reduction;
Publication title: McClatchy – Tribune Business News
Publication year: 2013
Publication date: Nov 3, 2013
Publisher: Tribune Content Agency LLC
Place of publication: Washington
Country of publication: United States
Publication subject: Business And Economics
Source type: Wire Feeds
Language of publication: English
Document type: News
ProQuest document ID: 1448076588
Document URL:
Copyright: _(c)2013 the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.) Visit the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.) at
Distributed by MCT Information Services
Last updated: 2013-11-03
Database: ProQuest Central
18 September 2015
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Citation style: APA 6th – American Psychological Association, 6th Edition
Martin, J. (2013, Nov 03). Layoff plan moves forward at GE transportation. McClatchy – Tribune Business News
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Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
Persuasion Through Rhetoric.
Common Devices and Techniques
© Indeed/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Students will learn to . . .
Define the difference between rhetoric and argument
Detect rhetorical devices and their persuasive impact
Recognize prejudicial and nonprejudicial uses of rhetorical devices
Identify and critique the use of euphemisms, dysphemisms, weaslers, and
Identify and critique the use of stereotypes, innuendo, and loaded questions
Identify and critique the use of ridicule, sarcasm, and hyperbole
Identify and critique the use of rhetorical definitions, explanations, analogies, and
misleading comparisons
Identify and critique the use of proof surrogates and repetition
Identify and critique the persuasive aspects of visual images
When the military uses the phrase “self­injurious behavior incidents” regarding detainees at
Guantánamo Bay, it means what most of us call “attempted suicides.” In fact, when the word
“detainees” is used, it means what most of us call “prisoners.” “Waterboarding” sounds at first like
something you’d expect to see young people doing on a California beach, not a torture technique
that involves forced simulated drowning. Less remarkable, perhaps, but possibly more relevant for
most of us, we’ve heard the term “downsized” used when someone is fired or laid off. “Ethnic
cleansing” covers everything from deportation to genocide.
What we have to say may be important, but the words we choose to say it with can be equally
important. The examples just given are cases of a certain type of linguistic coercion—an attempt to
get us to adopt a particular attitude toward a subject that, if described differently, would seem less
attractive to us. Words have tremendous persuasive power, or what we have called their
rhetorical force or emotive meaning—their power to express and elicit images, feelings, and
emotional associations. In the next few chapters, we examine some of the most common rhetorical
techniques used to affect people’s attitudes, opinions, and behavior.
Rhetoric refers to the study of persuasive writing. As we use the term, it denotes a broad
category of linguistic techniques people use when their primary objective is to influence beliefs and
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
attitudes and behavior. Is Hezbollah, the Shia paramilitary organization based in Lebanon, a
resistance movement of freedom fighters or a dangerous terrorist organization? The different
impressions these two descriptions create is largely due to their differing rhetorical meaning. Does
Juanita “still owe over $1,000 on her credit card”? Or does Juanita “owe only a little over $1,000 on
her credit card”? There’s no factual difference between the two questions—only a difference in
their rhetorical force. The thing to remember through these next few chapters is that rhetorical force
may be psychologically effective, but by itself it establishes nothing. If we allow our attitudes and
beliefs to be affected by sheer rhetoric, we fall short as critical thinkers.
Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful . . . and to give the
appearance of solidity to pure wind.
Now, before we get in trouble with your English teacher, let’s make it clear that there is nothing
wrong with trying to make your case as persuasive as possible by using well­chosen, rhetorically
effective words and phrases. Good writers always do this. But we, as critical thinkers, must be able
to distinguish the argument (if any) contained in what someone says or writes from the rhetoric; we
must be able to distinguish the logical force of a set of remarks from their psychological force.
One of the things you will become aware of—as you read these pages, do the exercises, apply
what you have learned to what you read and write—is that rhetoric is often mixed right in with
argument. The message isn’t that you should deduct points from an argument if it is presented in
rhetorically charged language, and it isn’t that you should try to take all the rhetoric out of your own
writing. The message is simply that you shouldn’t add points for rhetoric. You don’t make an
argument stronger by screaming it at the top of your lungs. Likewise, you don’t make it stronger by
adding rhetorical devices.
Many of these rhetorical bells and whistles have names because they are so common and so
well understood. Because they are used primarily to give a statement a positive or negative slant
regarding a subject, they are sometimes called slanters. We’ll describe some of the more widely
used specimens.
Such images as this add to the negative impact of the “death tax,”
described in the box on the next page.
© Photodisc/Getty Images
Rhetorical Devices I
Our first group of slanters consists of what are usually single words or short phrases designed to
accomplish one of four specific rhetorical tasks.
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
Euphemisms are unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne.
QUENTIN CRISP, Manners from Heaven
Euphemisms and Dysphemisms
Language usually offers us a choice of words when we want to say something. Until recently, the
term “used car” referred to an automobile that wasn’t new, but the trend nowadays is to refer to
such a car as “pre­owned.” The people who sell such cars, of course, hope that the different
terminology will keep potential buyers from thinking about how “used” the car might be—maybe it’s
used up! The car dealer’s replacement term, “pre­owned,” is a euphemism—a neutral or positive
expression instead of one that carries negative associations. Euphemisms play an important role
in affecting our attitudes. People may be less likely to disapprove of an assassination attempt on a
foreign leader, for example, if it is referred to as “neutralization.” People fighting against the
government of a country can be referred to neutrally as “rebels” or “guerrillas,” but a person who
wants to build support for them may refer to them by the euphemism “freedom fighters.” A
government is likely to pay a price for initiating a “revenue enhancement,” but voters will be even
quicker to respond negatively to a “tax hike.” The U.S. Department of Defense performs the same
function it did when it was called the Department of War, but the current name makes for much
better public relations.
Real Life: The Death Tax
Here is Grover Norquist, who is the head of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington,
D.C., in a press release from that organization:
Over seventy percent of Americans oppose the Death Tax, and with good
reason. It is the worst form of double­taxation, where, after taxing you all your
life, the government decides to take even more when you die.
“Death Tax” is a dysphemism, of course. The estate tax is a tax not on death but on
inherited wealth, imposed on the occasion of a person’s death. And the person paying
the tax is not the deceased, but the inheritors, who have never paid tax on the money.
The opposite of a euphemism is a dysphemism. Dysphemisms are used to produce a
negative effect on a listener’s or reader’s attitude toward something or to tone down the positive
associations it may have. Whereas “freedom fighter” is a euphemism for “guerrilla” or “rebel,”
“terrorist” is a dysphemism.
“Wardrobe malfunction”
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
Justin Timberlake’s phrase for his tearing of Janet Jackson’s
costume during the half­time performance at Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Euphemisms and dysphemisms are often used in deceptive ways or ways that at least hint at
deception. All the examples in the preceding paragraphs are examples of such uses. But
euphemisms can at times be helpful and constructive. By allowing us to approach a sensitive
subject indirectly—or by skirting it entirely—euphemisms can sometimes prevent hostility from
bringing rational discussion to a halt. They can also be a matter of good manners: “Passed on”
may be much more appropriate than “dead” if the person to whom you’re speaking is recently
widowed. Hence, our purpose for using euphemisms and dysphemisms determines whether or not
those uses are legitimate.
It bears mentioning that some facts just are repellent, and for that reason even neutral reports of
them sound horrible. “Lizzie killed her father with an ax” reports a horrible fact about Lizzie, but it
does so using neutral language. Neutral reports of unpleasant, evil, or repellent facts do not
automatically count as dysphemistic rhetoric.
Weaselers are linguistic methods of hedging a bet. When inserted into a claim, they help protect it
from criticism by watering it down somewhat, weakening it, and giving the claim’s author a way out
in case the claim is challenged. So, what a claim asserts, a weaseler either minimizes or takes
away entirely.
Without doubt you’ve heard the words “up to” used as a weaseler a thousand times, especially in
advertising. “Up to five more miles per gallon.” “Up to twenty more yards off the tee.” “Lose up to
ten pounds a week.” None of these guarantee anything. Sure, you might lose ten pounds, but you
might lose nothing. The statement still stands, thanks to “up to.”
Let’s make up a statistic. Let’s say that 98 percent of American doctors believe that aspirin is a
contributing cause of Reye’s syndrome in children, and that the other 2 percent are unconvinced. If
we then claim that “some doctors are unconvinced that aspirin is related to Reye’s syndrome,” we
cannot be held accountable for having said something false, even though our claim might be
misleading to someone who did not know the complete story. The word “some” has allowed us to
weasel the point.
Great Western pays up to 12 percent more interest on checking accounts.
Radio advertisement
Even aside from the “up to” weaseler, this ad can be deceptive about what
interest rate it’s promising. Unless you listen carefully, you might think Great
Western is paying 12 percent on checking accounts. The presence of the word
“more” changes all that, of course. If you’re getting 3 percent now, and Great
Western gives you “up to 12 percent more” than that, they’ll be giving you about
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
3⅓ percent—hardly the fortune the ad seems to promise.
Words that sometimes weasel—such as “perhaps,” “possibly,” “maybe,” and “may be,” among
others—can be used to produce innuendo, to plant a suggestion without actually making a claim
that a person can be held to. We can suggest that Berriault is a liar without actually saying so (and
thus without making a claim that might be hard to defend) by saying that Berriault may be a liar. Or
we can say it is possible that Berriault is a liar (which is true of all of us, after all). “Perhaps
Berriault is a liar” works nicely, too. All of these are examples of weaselers used to create
innuendo (to be explained below).
Not every use of words and phrases like these is a weaseling one, of course. Words that can
weasel can also bring very important qualifications to bear on a claim. The very same word that
weasels in one context may not weasel at all in another. For example, a detective who is
considering all the possible angles on a crime and who has just heard Smith’s account of events
may say to an associate, “Of course, it is possible that Smith is lying.” This need not be a case of
weaseling. The detective may simply be exercising due care. Other words and phrases that are
sometimes used to weasel can also be used legitimately. Qualifying phrases such as “it is
arguable that,” “it may well be that,” and so on have at least as many appropriate uses as
weaseling ones. Others, such as “some would say that,” are likely to be weaseling more often than
not, but even they can serve an honest purpose in the right context. Our warning, then, is to be
watchful when qualifying phrases turn up. Is the speaker or writer adding a reasonable qualification,
insinuating a bit of innuendo, or preparing a way out? We can only warn; you need to assess the
speaker, the context, and the subject to establish the grounds for the right judgment.
In the Media: Innuendo with Statistics
Taxpayers with incomes over $200,000 could expect on average to pay
about $99,000 in taxes under [the proposed] plan.
Wall Street Journal
Wow! Pity the poor taxpayer who makes over $200,000! Apparently, he or she will pay
almost half of that amount in taxes.
But think again: In the words of the New Republic (February 3, 2003), “The Journal’s
statistic is about as meaningful as asserting that males over the age of six have had an
average of three sexual partners.” Bill Gates and many billionaires like him are among
those who make over $200,000.
Downplaying is an attempt to make someone or something look less important or less significant.
Stereotypes, rhetorical comparisons, rhetorical explanations, and innuendo (all discussed later)
can all be used to downplay something. Consider this statement, for example: “Don’t mind what Mr.
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
Pierce says in class; he’s a liberal.” This attempt to downplay Mr. Pierce and whatever views he
expresses in class makes use of a stereotype. We can also downplay by careful insertion of
certain words or other devices. Let’s amend the preceding example like this: “Don’t mind what Mr.
Pierce says in class; he’s just another liberal.” Notice how the phrase “just another” denigrates Mr.
Pierce’s status still further. Words and other devices that serve this function are known as
Perhaps the words most often used as downplayers are “mere” and “merely.” If Kim tells you that
she has a yellow belt in the Tibetan martial art of Pujo and that her sister has a mere green belt,
you would quite naturally make the assumption that a yellow belt ranks higher than a green belt.
We’d probably say that Kim’s use of the word “mere” gives you the right to make that assumption.
Kim has used the word to downplay the significance of her sister’s accomplishment. But notice
this: It could still be that Kim’s sister’s belt signifies the higher rank. If called on the matter, Kim
might claim that she said “mere” simply because her sister has been practicing the art for much
longer and is, after all, not that far ahead. Whether Kim has such an out or not, she has used a
downplayer to try to diminish her sister’s accomplishment.
The term “so­called” is another standard downplayer. We might say, for example, that the woman
who made the diagnosis is a “so­called doctor,” which downplays her credentials as a physician.
Quotation marks can be used to accomplish the same thing:
She got her “degree” from a correspondence school.
Use of quotation marks as a downplayer is somewhat different from their use to indicate irony,
as in this remark:
John “borrowed” Hank’s umbrella, and Hank hasn’t seen it since.
The idea in the latter example isn’t to downplay John’s borrowing the umbrella; it’s to indicate
that it wasn’t really a case of borrowing at all. But the use of quotation marks around the word
“degree” and the use of “so­called” in the earlier examples are designed to play down the
importance of their subjects. And, like “mere” and “merely,” they do it in a fairly unsubtle way.
Many conjunctions—such as “nevertheless,” “however,” “still,” and “but”—can be used to
downplay claims that precede them. Such uses are more subtle than the first group of
downplayers. Compare the following two versions of what is essentially the same pair of claims:
(1) The leak at the plant was a terrible tragedy, all right; however, we must remember
that such pesticide plants are an integral part of the “green revolution” that has helped
to feed millions of people.
(2) Although it’s true that pesticide plants are an integral part of the “green revolution”
that has helped to feed millions of people, it was just such a plant that developed a leak
and produced a terrible tragedy.
The differences may not be as obvious as those in the cases of “mere” and “so­called,” but the
two versions give an indication of where their authors’ sympathies lie.
The context of a claim can determine whether it downplays or not. Consider the remark “Chavez
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
won by only six votes.” The word “only” may or may not downplay Chavez’s victory, depending on
how thin a six­vote margin is. If ten thousand people voted and Chavez won by six, then the word
“only” seems perfectly appropriate: Chavez won by just the skin of his teeth. But if the vote was in a
committee of, say, twenty, then six is quite a substantial margin (it would be thirteen votes to seven,
if everybody voted—almost two to one), and applying the word “only” to the result is clearly a
slanting device designed to give Chavez’s margin of victory less importance than it deserves.
As mentioned earlier, slanters really can’t—and shouldn’t—be avoided altogether. They can give
our writing flair and interest. What can be avoided is being unduly swayed by slanters. Learn to
appreciate the effects that subtle and not­so­subtle manipulations of language can have on you. By
being aware, you decrease your chances of being taken in unwittingly by a clever writer or
Exercise 5­1
Identify any of the rhetorical devices you find in the following from the previous section of the text
(euphemisms, dysphemisms, weaselers, downplayers). Not every example may contain such a
You say you are in love with Oscar, but are you sure he’s right for you? Isn’t he a
little too . . . uh, mature for you?
He was at the bar for two hours, officer, but I know he had only four drinks during
that time.
“The key principle is ‘responsible energy exploration.’ And remember, it’s NOT
drilling for oil. It’s responsible energy exploration.”
—Republican pollster Frank Luntz
Of course, it may be that Roethlisberger didn’t even commit the assaults he was
accused of.
Try the Neutron Diet for just four weeks, and you can lose as many as twenty
Republicans stand on principle against the irresponsible plans put forth by
environmental extremists to wreck the economy.
“Despite what many politicians continue to say, the success of the surge strategy
put in place by Generals Petraeus and Odierno is undeniable.”
—House Minority Leader John Boehner (R­Ohio)
Obama and his Democrat­Communist party have bloated the already bloated
federal bureaucracy by 25% in ONE YEAR.
Charles, be sure to tinkle before we leave!
Him? Oh, that’s just my brother.
Rhetorical Devices II
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
These next three slanting devices rely, in one way or another, on unwarranted assumptions. We
have to depend on unstated assumptions all the time, but as you’ll see, we can get into trouble
when those assumptions are not trustworthy.
You often hear references to “the liberals,” “the right­wingers,” “the Jews,” “the Catholics,” “the
Evangelicals,” and, lately, “the Tea Partiers.” These terms are almost always used when the
speaker or writer is making use of a stereotype. A stereotype is a generalization or an
assumption about all the members of a group that is based on an image of those in the group.
Americans are often stereotyped as being friendly and generous, but also as being impatient and
domineering. Asians are often stereotyped as being reserved but clever. Some stereotypes are
negative and even vicious: women are emotional, men are insensitive, lesbians hate men,
southerners are bigots, gay men are effeminate, and so on. Of course, a moment’s thought tells us
that none of these characteristics could reasonably be applied to all the members of the group in
Mention the strict regulations—not protocols or rules—governing nuclear
power plants.
Republican pollster FRANK LUNTZ, in “An Energy Policy for the 21st
Century,” advising Republicans how to sell nuclear energy
Some of the slanters we’ve already talked about can involve stereotypes. For example, if we use
the dysphemism “right­wing extremist” to defame a political candidate, we are utilizing a negative
stereotype. Commonly, if we link a candidate with a stereotype we like or venerate, we can create
a favorable impression of the individual. “Senator McCain addressed his opponent with all the
civility of a gentleman” employs a favorable stereotype, that of a gentleman, in a rhetorical
Our stereotypes come from a great many sources, many from popular literature, and are often
supported by a variety of prejudices and group interests. The Native American tribes of the Great
Plains were considered noble people by most whites until just before the mid­nineteenth century.
But as white people grew more interested in moving them off their lands and as conflicts between
the two escalated, popular literature increasingly described Native Americans as subhuman
creatures. This stereotype supported the group interests of whites. Conflicts in general, but
especially conflicts between nations, produce derogatory stereotypes of the opposition; it is easier
to destroy enemies without pangs of conscience if we think of them as less “human” than
ourselves. Stereotyping becomes even easier when there are racial differences to exploit.
In the Media: We Get Dumber in Company of Blondes
Courtesy Everett Collection
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
LONDON—From Marilyn Monroe to Paris Hilton, “blonde” has long been code for a
woman who’s long on looks and light on brains.
Now French researchers have found that the stereotype can actually affect mental
A recent study showed that otherwise intelligent men performed below par on general
knowledge tests after viewing photos of blonde women.
The real surprise? Women’s performance also dipped in the tests.
The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, examined
people’s ability to answer Trivial Pursuit game questions after viewing photos of women
with different hair colors.
Exposure to blondes resulted in the lowest scores.
Thierry Meyer, joint author of the study and professor of social psychology at the
University of Paris X­Nanterre, said that the study proves a general phenomenon.
“There’s a decrease in performance after an unobtrusive exposure to a stereotype about
people who have the reputation to be cognitively impaired,” he said.
In plainer language, blondes might make people act in a less intelligent manner because
the people believe—whether they want to admit it or not—that they are in the presence of
someone who’s not very smart.
Previous studies also have shown how information from a person’s social context can
influence their behavior.
For example, when people are exposed to elderly people, they tend to walk and talk
more slowly. When people sit beside someone who is fidgeting, they tend to fidget as
“The mere knowledge of a stereotype can influence our behavior,” said Clementine Bry,
another author of the study.
It’s not clear how the stereotype of the dumb blonde came about, although some
researchers point to the 1950s movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes starring Marilyn
Monroe. But through the years a wide range of blonde actresses—from Mae West to
Suzanne Somers to Goldie Hawn—have perpetuated the stereotype.
Bry was quick to point out that there is “absolutely no scientific evidence” to support the
stereotype of the dumb blonde.
“Stereotypes are cultural beliefs about social groups, and are not truthful pictures of who
people are,” she said.
—Shelley Emling, Cox News Service
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
Nicholas Kristof notes that it isn’t just the ignorant and uneducated whose thinking runs to
In times of stress, even smart and sophisticated people tend to be swept up in
prejudice. Teddy Roosevelt said in 1886: “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good
Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t inquire too
closely in the case of the tenth. The most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than
the average Indian.”*
D. Kristof, “Bigotry in Islam—and Here,” New York Times,
, op­ed section.
The fact that nothing could have been further from the truth seems to be irrelevant once the blood
pressure gets up. (It’s also helpful to remember that the stereotypical cowboy of the movies was
hardly realistic. After all, it was not the pillars of society who moved West and became cowboys
during the nineteenth century.)
The next batch of slanting devices doesn’t depend as much on emotional associations as on the
manipulation of other features of language. When we communicate with one another, we
automatically have certain expectations and make certain assumptions. (For example, when your
instructor says, “Everybody passed the exam,” she doesn’t mean that everybody in the world
passed the exam. We assume that the scope of the pronoun extends to include only those who
took the exam.) These expectations and assumptions help fill in the gaps in our conversations so
that we don’t have to explain everything we say in minute detail. Because providing such details
would be a tedious and probably impossible chore, these underlying conversational factors are
crucial to the success of communication.
The city voluntarily assumed the costs of cleaning up the landfill to make it
safe for developers.
Opponents of a local housing development
The opponents neglected to mention that the law required the city to assume the
costs. This bit of innuendo on the part of the opponents suggested, of course,
that the city was in bed with the developers.
Consider this statement:
Ladies and gentlemen, I am proof that there is at least one candidate in this race who
does not have a drinking problem.
Notice that this remark does not say that any opponent of the speaker does have a drinking
problem. In fact, the speaker is even allowing for the fact that other candidates may have no such
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
problem by using the words “at least one candidate.” But because we assume there would be no
need to make this remark unless there were a candidate who had a drinking problem, the speaker
casts suspicion on his opponent. This is sometimes referred to as significant mention or
paralipsis. It is one form of innuendo, which includes many ways of getting a point across without
explicitly committing oneself to it.
Another example, maybe our all­time favorite, is this remark:
I didn’t say the meat was tough. I said I didn’t see the horse that is usually outside.
W. C. Fields
As discussed later in the text, the power of photographs and other
images to convey emotions is somewhat analogous to the rhetorical
force of language. For example, what emotion is elicited by this image?
© Graeme Robertson/Getty Images
As you can see, the use of innuendo enables us to insinuate something deprecatory about
something or someone without actually saying it. For example, if someone asks you whether Ralph
is telling the truth, you may reply, “Yes, this time,” which would suggest that maybe Ralph doesn’t
usually tell the truth. Or you might say of someone, “She is competent—in many regards,” which
would insinuate that in some ways she is not competent.
Sometimes we condemn somebody with faint praise—that is, by praising a person a small
amount when grander praise might be expected, we hint that praise may not really be due at all.
This is a kind of innuendo. Imagine, for example, reading a letter of recommendation that says,
“Ms. Flotsam has done good work for us, I suppose.” Such a letter does not inspire one to want to
hire Ms. Flotsam on the spot. Likewise, “She’s proved to be useful so far” and “Surprisingly, she
seems very astute” manage to speak more evil than good of Ms. Flotsam. Notice, though, that the
literal information contained in these remarks is not negative in the least. Innuendo lies between the
lines, so to speak.
Loaded Questions
Another form of innuendo, one distinctive enough to warrant its own heading, is the loaded
question. If you overheard someone ask, “Have you always loved to gamble?” you would naturally
assume that the person being questioned did in fact love to gamble. This assumption is
independent of whether the person answered yes or no, for it underlies the question itself. Every
question rests on assumptions. Even an innocent question like “What time is it?” depends on the
assumptions that the hearer speaks English and has some means of finding out the time, for
instance. A loaded question is less innocent, however. It rests on one or more unwarranted or
unjustified assumptions. The world’s oldest example, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” rests
on the assumption that the person asked has in the past beaten his wife. If there is no reason to
think that this assumption is true, then the question is a loaded one.
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Exercise 5­2
Identify any rhetorical devices you find in these passages that were described in the previous three
sections of the text (stereotypes, innuendo, loaded questions). Not every example may contain
such a device.
An attorney questioning a witness: “So, if you were awake when you crossed the
bridge, just when did you go to sleep at the wheel?”
No, I’m sure you’ll enjoy playing tennis with Jerome. He gets around pretty well for
a guy his age.
Frankly, I believe that flash memory will make any kind of moving­part memory,
such as hard drives, completely obsolete.
Larry Kudlow, on CNBC (in an American Spectator interview): “[Former Treasury
secretary] Bob Rubin’s a smart guy, a nice man, but he hates tax cuts. To listen to
Rubin on domestic issues, you could just die. He’s a free­spending left­winger.”
Has Harry been a faithful husband? Well, he’s not been through a Tiger Woods
Why is it, do you suppose, that pit bulls are all mean and vicious?
I wouldn’t worry about the train being late. This is Germany, you know.
Why did Obama fail to act swiftly to end the BP oil spill?
It goes without saying that kid will do well in school. His kind always do.
The Pope does not molest children.
Rhetorical Devices III
Humor and a bit of exaggeration are part of our everyday speech. But they can also be used to
sway opinions if the listener is not being careful.
Also known as the horse laugh, this device includes ridicule and vicious humor of all kinds.
Ridicule is a powerful rhetorical tool—most of us really hate being laughed at. So it’s important to
remember that somebody who simply gets a laugh at the expense of another person’s position has
not raised any objection to that position.
One may simply laugh outright at a claim (“Send aid to Russia? Har, har, har!”), laugh at another
claim that reminds us of the first (“Support the Equal Rights Amendment? Sure, when the ladies
start buying the drinks! Ho, ho, ho!”), tell an unrelated joke, use sarcastic language, or simply laugh
at the person who is trying to make the point.
The next time you watch a debate, remember that the person who has the funniest lines and who
gets the most laughs may be the person who seems to win the debate, but critical thinkers should
be able to see the difference between argumentation on one hand and entertainment on the other.
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Notice that we are not saying there’s anything wrong with entertainment, nor with making a valid
point in a humorous way. Jon Stewart makes his living ridiculing others (as well as himself). But
often there is a serious critical point alongside or underneath the humorous presentation.
Hyperbole is extravagant overstatement. A claim that exaggerates for effect is on its way to
becoming hyperbole, depending on the strength of its language and the point being made. To
describe a hangnail as a serious injury is hyperbole; so is using the word “fascist” to describe
parents who insist that their teenager be home by midnight. Not all strong or colorful language is
hyperbole, of course. “Oscar Peterson is an unbelievably inventive pianist” is a strong claim, but it
is not hyperbolic—it isn’t really extravagant. However, “Oscar Peterson is the most inventive
musician who ever lived” goes beyond emphasis and crosses over the line into hyperbole. (How
could one know that Oscar Peterson is more inventive than, say, Mozart?) The test for hyperbole is
basically a test for any kind of initial plausibility (see Chapter 4, p. 111). A hyperbolic claim will
typically have little or none.
Much sarcastic comment resulted from Sarah Palin’s use of notes
penned on her palm. She even got in on the act herself in a later
© Cheryl Gerber/Getty Images
Dysphemisms often involve hyperbole. So do rhetorical comparisons. When we use the
dysphemisms “traitorous” or “extremist” to describe the views of a member of an opposing political
party, we are indulging in hyperbole. If we say that the secretary of state is less well informed than a
beet, that’s hyperbole in a rhetorical comparison. In similar ways, rhetorical explanations and
definitions (see next two pages) can utilize hyperbole.
Hyperbole is also frequently used in ridicule. If it involves exaggeration, a piece of ridicule counts
as hyperbole. The foregoing example, saying that the secretary of state is less well informed than a
beet, is hyperbole in a rhetorical comparison used to ridicule that official.
A feminazi is a woman to whom the most important thing in life is seeing to it
that as many abortions as possible are performed.
A rhetorical definition with hyperbole. (A straw man, too, but that’s for a later
A claim can be hyperbolic without containing excessively emotive words or phrases. Neither the
hangnail nor the Oscar Peterson example contains such language; in fact, the word “unbelievably”
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is probably the most emotive word in the two claims about Peterson, and it occurs in the
nonhyperbolic claim. But a claim can also be hyperbole as a result of the use of such language.
“Parents who are strict about a curfew are fascists” is an example. If the word “mean” were
substituted for “fascists,” we might find the claim strong or somewhat exaggerated, but we would
not call it hyperbole. It’s when the colorfulness of language becomes excessive—a matter of
judgment—that the claim is likely to turn into hyperbole.
Hyperbole is an obvious slanting device, but it can also have more subtle—perhaps unconscious
—effects. Even if you reject the exaggeration, you may be moved in the direction of the basic
claim. For example, you may reject the claim that Oscar Peterson is the most inventive musician
who ever lived, but you may now believe that Oscar Peterson must certainly be an extraordinary
musician—otherwise, why would someone make that exaggerated claim about him? Or suppose
someone says, “Charlotte Church has the most fabulous voice of any singer around today.” Even if
you reject the “fabulous” part of the claim, you may still end up thinking Charlotte Church must have
a pretty good voice. But be careful: Without support, you have no more reason to accept the milder
claims than the wilder ones. Hyperbole can add a persuasive edge to a claim that it doesn’t
deserve. A hyperbolic claim is pure persuasion.
Rhetorical Devices IV
Definitions, explanations, analogies, and comparisons are all used in straightforward ways most of
the time. But, as we’ll see, they can also be used in rhetorical fashion to slant a point one way or
Rhetorical Definitions and Rhetorical Explanations
We encountered rhetorical (or persuasive) definitions in Chapter 3. “Real” definitions are primarily
used to clarify meaning; rhetorical definitions use emotively charged language to express or
elicit an attitude about something. Defining abortion as “the murder of an unborn child” does this—
and stacks the deck against those who think abortion is morally defensible. Likewise, “human
being” could be restricted in its meaning to an organism to which a human gives birth. Under this
definition, abortion could not be classified as homicide.
On Language: Legislative Misnomers
Several polls have reported that voters sometimes indicate approval of a measure when
they hear its title but indicate disapproval after they’ve heard an explanation of what the
measure actually proposes. This isn’t surprising, given the misleading proposal titles
assigned by members of Congress and state legislatures, and by authors of ballot
measures. Here are a few examples of recent laws, initiatives, and so on, the names of
which don’t exactly tell the whole story:
Healthy Forests Initiative (federal)—Reduces public involvement in decision
making regarding logging, reduces environmental protection requirements, and
provides timber companies greater access to national forests
Clear Skies Act (federal)—Loosens regulation of mercury, nitrous oxide, and
sulphur dioxide, and puts off required reductions of these substances for several
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years beyond the limits of the current Clean Air Act; allows companies to trade off
“pollution credits” so that some communities would get cleaner air and others
dirtier air
Limitations on Enforcement of Unfair Business Competition Laws (California)—
Makes it impossible for consumer groups of all types to sue corporations and
businesses to prevent fraud, false advertising, and other deceptions before they
take place
Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (Arizona)—Requires
law enforcement officers to determine immigration status of individuals whom they
reasonably suspect to be illegal aliens
Right to Work (many states)—Prevents unions from collecting fees from
nonmembers of bargaining units
Prohibition of Discrimination and Preferential Treatment (California)—Weakens or
eliminates affirmative action programs
In Chapter 3, we explained three forms definitions typically take. It’s worth noting here that even
definitions by example can slant a discussion if the examples are prejudicially chosen. Defining
“conservative” by pointing to a white supremacist would be a case in point. Bill Maher once defined
a conservative as one who thinks all problems can be solved by either more guns or more Jesus. If
one wants to see all sides of an issue, one must avoid definitions and examples that slant a
Rhetorical explanations are the same kind of slanting device, this time clothed as
explanations. “He lost the fight because he’s lost his nerve.” Is this different from saying that he lost
because he was too cautious? Maybe, but maybe not. What isn’t in doubt is that the explanation is
certainly more unflattering when it’s put the former way.
We recently saw a good example of a rhetorical explanation in a letter to an editor:
I am a traditional liberal who keeps asking himself, why has there been such a seismic
shift in affirmative action? It used to be affirmative action stood for equal opportunity;
now it means preferences and quotas. Why the change? It’s because the people
behind affirmative action aren’t for equal rights anymore; they’re for handouts.
This isn’t a dispassionate scholarly explanation but a way of expressing an opinion on, and trying
to evoke anger at, affirmative action policies.
Rhetorical Analogies and Misleading Comparisons
A while back, Robert Kittle, the editorial page editor of the San Diego Union­Tribune, referred to
the Social Security system as a Ponzi scheme. (Ponzi schemes, named for Carlo Ponzi, who was
responsible for some famous examples, are pyramid schemes designed to bilk money from
people who fall for them; Bernie Madoff, who made off with $65 billion of other people’s money, is
the most famous recent practitioner.) To compare the Social Security system to such a scheme is
to make a rhetorical analogy—a comparison of two things or a likening of one thing to another in
order to make one of them appear better or worse than it might be. Now, people use analogies for
various explanatory purposes; if a friend knows nothing of rugby, for instance, you might help him
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understand something about it by comparing it to football. In the foregoing case, however, editor
Kittle’s comparison was designed not to enlighten but to persuade. “Ponzi scheme” has a strong
negative connotation, and calling something a Ponzi scheme portrays it in a bad light.
Stereotypes. (DOONESBURY © G. B. Trudeau. Reprinted with
permission of Universal Press Syndicate. All rights reserved.)
Rhetorical analogies are often used as a substitute for arguments, and it is easy to see why.
Facts are required to show that Social Security is financially unsustainable; it’s less work and
possibly just as effective to call it a Ponzi scheme. This kind of persuasion often works very well,
producing conviction in the listener without the necessity of proof.
Rhetorical analogies include both metaphors and similes. “Hillary’s eyes bulge just a little, like a
Chihuahua’s” is a simile; “Jenna is a loose cannon” is a metaphor.
Rhetorical analogies also include comparisons. “You have a better chance of being struck by
lightning than of winning the lottery.” Or Dave Barry’s description of parenthood: “Having kids is like
having a bowling alley installed in your brain.” These are colorful ways of making a point, but of
course they do not constitute reasons for accepting that point.
Some comparisons can be problematic, leading us into error if we’re not careful. Advertising
slogans often use comparisons that can mislead us because of their vagueness. “Now 25 percent
larger,” “New and improved formula,” or “Quietest by far.” We learned what problems vagueness
can cause in the previous chapter; it returns to haunt these comparative claims. Larger than what?
Improved how? Unless the terms of the comparison are spelled out and the manner of comparing
made clear, such claims are worth very little. As we also saw in the previous chapter, claims made
in advertising are not our most reliable sources of information, and that includes comparative
Following are some questions that you would be wise to keep in mind when considering
comparisons. They include reference to omissions and distortions, which can be among the more
subtle forms of rhetorical devices.
1. Is important information missing? It is nice to hear that the unemployment rate has gone
down, but not if you learn the reason is that a larger percent of the workforce has given up
looking for work. Or, suppose someone says that 90 percent of heroin addicts once smoked
marijuana. Without other information, the comparison is meaningless, since 90 percent of
heroin addicts no doubt listened to the Beatles, too. Our local U.S. congressional
representative Wally Herger recently warned his constituents that Social Security is in dire
straits. At one time, he said, there were 42 workers to support a single retiree, and now there
are only 3. This does indeed sound ominous, except Representative Herger didn’t mention
that the 42­to­1 ratio was at the startup of Social Security before many had retired; he also
failed to mention that the 3­to­1 ratio has been around for the past 25 years, during which
period Social Security accumulated a surplus.*
from our colleague, Professor (of American history) Carl Peterson.
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2. Is the same standard of comparison used? Are the same reporting and recording
practices being used? A change in the jobless rate doesn’t mean much if the government
changes the way it calculates joblessness, as sometimes happens. In 1993, the number of
people in the United States with AIDS suddenly increased dramatically. Had a new form of the
AIDS virus appeared? No; the federal government had expanded the definition of AIDS to
include several new indicator conditions. As a result, overnight 50,000 people were
considered to have AIDS who had not been so considered the day before.
In the Media: A Misleading Mathematical Visual
Sometimes a straightforward mathematical comparison can become misleading by
the way it’s presented. The bar graph below, from a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll,
compares Democrats, Republicans, and Independents with respect to their
agreement with a court’s judgment that the feeding tube should be removed from
Terri Schiavo, a case discussed in the text, page 166. From a casual look at the bar
graph, it might seem that Democrats are much more in favor of removing the tube
than Republicans or Independents.
But look at the numbers rather than the bars themselves, and we get a different story.
The first graph shows us only the parts of the bars, from 53 percent to 63 percent. If
we display the entire bars, from 0 to 100 percent, the graph looks like this:
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In this case, the Democrats look (correctly) to be only somewhat more in favor of
removing the tube. The lesson here is to avoid drawing conclusions until you’ve had a
close look at the data, including the manner in which it is displayed.
Comparison originally made by
3. Are the items comparable? It is hard to compare baseball sluggers Barry Bonds and Willie
Mays if one but not the other used steroids, or if one had the benefit of improved equipment.
It’s hard to derive a conclusion from the fact that this April’s retail business activity is way down
as compared with last April’s, if Easter came early this year and the weather was especially
cold. That more male than female drivers are involved in traffic fatalities doesn’t mean much by
itself, since male drivers collectively drive more miles than do female drivers. Comparing
share values of two mutual funds over the past ten years won’t be useful to an investor if the
comparison doesn’t take into account a difference in fees.
4. Is the comparison expressed as an average? The average rainfall in Seattle is about the
same as that in Kansas City. But you’ll spend more time in the rain in Seattle because it rains
there twice as often as in Kansas City. If Central Valley Components, Inc. (CVC), reports that
average salaries of a majority of its employees have more than doubled over the past ten
years, it sounds good, but CVC still may not be a great place to work. Perhaps the increases
were due to converting the majority of employees, who worked half­time, to full­time and firing
the rest. Comparisons that involve averages omit details that can be important, simply
because they involve averages.
Averages are measures of central tendency, and there are different kinds of measures or
averages. Consider, for instance, the average cost of a new house in your area, which may be
$210,000. If that is the mean, it is the total of the sales prices divided by the number of houses
sold, and it may be quite different from the median, which is an average that is the halfway
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figure (half the houses cost more and half cost less). The mode, the most common sales
price, may be different yet. If there are likely to be large or dramatic variations in what is
measured, one must be cautious of figures that represent an unspecific “average.”
Never try to wade a river just because it has an average depth of four feet.
The wrong average can put you under.
In 2003, the administration proposed a tax cut that, it was said, would give
the average taxpayer $1,083.
The “average” here is the mean average. However, most taxpayers,
according to the Urban Institute–Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center,
would have received less than $100 under the administration’s proposal.
Misleading averages
Real Life: Cause for Alarm?
According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, cocaine use among
Americans twelve to seventeen years of age increased by a whopping 166 percent
between 1992 and 1995. Wow, right?
Except that the increase in absolute terms was a little less spectacular: In 1992, 0.3
percent of Americans aged twelve to seventeen had used cocaine; in 1995, the
percentage was 0.8 percent of that population.
Be wary of comparisons expressed as percentage changes.
In Depth: Visual Hyperbole, Ridicule, or Just Beefcake?
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Former Governor Schwarzenegger of California was the point of all manner of jokes,
both verbal and visual. Most good satire and parody contain more than a kernel of truth.
Schwarzenegger’s fame as a bodybuilder and later as the star of such action movies as
the Terminator series helped him get elected and also have been the source of most of
the humor about him. Here, he appears in his Conan the Barbarian gear, overseeing the
settling of California by whites in the nineteenth century. We think the main point here is
simply to show the governor without a shirt.
Exercise 5­3
Explain how rhetorical definitions, rhetorical comparisons, and rhetorical explanations differ. Find
an example of each in a newspaper, magazine, or other source.
Exercise 5­4
Critique these comparisons, using the questions about comparisons discussed in the text as
You get much better service on Air Atlantic.
Better than on what? (One term of the comparison is not clear.)
In what way better? (The claim is much too vague to be of much use.)
New improved Morning Muffins! Now with 20 percent more real dairy butter!
The average concert musician makes less than a plumber.
Major­league ballplayers are much better than they were thirty years ago.
What an arid place to live. Why, they had less rain here than in the desert.
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On the whole, the mood of the country is more conservative than it was in the
Which is better for a person, coffee or tea?
The average GPA of graduating seniors at Georgia State is 3.25, as compared
with 2.75 twenty years ago.
Women can tolerate more pain than men.
Try Duraglow with new sunscreening polymers. Reduces the harmful effect of sun
on your car’s finish by up to 50 percent.
What a brilliant season! Attendance was up 25 percent over last year.
Proof Surrogates and Repetition
These last two devices stand more or less alone; they don’t fit comfortably into any of the other
groups, so we’ve made a group of just the two of them.
Proof Surrogates
An expression used to suggest that there is evidence or authority for a claim without actually citing
such evidence or authority is a proof surrogate. Sometimes we can’t prove the claim we’re
asserting, but we can hint that there is proof available, or at least evidence or authority for the
claim, without committing ourselves to what that proof, evidence, or authority is. Using “informed
sources say” is a favorite way of making a claim seem more authoritative. Who are the sources?
How do we know they’re informed? How does the person making the claim know they’re informed?
“It’s obvious that” sometimes precedes a claim that isn’t obvious at all. But we may keep our
objections to ourselves in the belief that it’s obvious to everybody but us, and we don’t want to
appear denser than the next guy.
There is no other country in the Middle East except Israel that can be
considered to have a stable government. . . . Is Saudi Arabia more stable?
Egypt? Jordan? Kuwait? Judge for yourself!
“Facts and Logic About the Middle East”
Proof surrogates often take the form of questions. This strategy can also be
analyzed as switching the burden of proof (see Chapter 7).
Proof surrogates are sometimes used as part of a more general scheme of insinuating one’s
way into another’s confidence. Most good salespersons know that if they can establish some
common personal ground with a client, they are more likely to make a sale, and the same is true in
general for trying to persuade one’s listeners that some claim is true. One way of making a
personal connection is by establishing, or insinuating, that one is part of the same group as one’s
listeners. It’s “just us” instead of “us and them.” We generally feel more favorably toward members
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of groups to which we belong, and this “in­group” bias can help bring one’s listeners over to one’s
side. It’s simply true that we tend to hold our comrades—members of our own group—to a lower
standard of proof than we do outsiders.
Many proof surrogates play on this presumed in­group status. When someone says, “As we
know . . .,” to disagree is tantamount to admitting you are not among the in­group. Similarly, “As
everybody knows . . . ,” threatens to put one who disagrees among the uninformed outsiders.
The preceding considerations are fairly subtle but often more effective than we might like to
admit. Other proof surrogates are rather more blunt: “Studies show” crops up a lot in advertising.
Note that this phrase tells us nothing about how many studies are involved, how good they are, who
did them, or any other important information. Here’s a good example of a proof surrogate from the
Wall Street Journal:
We hope politicians on this side of the border are paying close attention to Canada’s
referendum on Quebec. . . .
Canadians turned out en masse to reject the referendum. There’s every reason to
believe that voters in the U.S. are just as fed up with the social engineering that lumps
people together as groups rather than treating them as individuals.
There may be “every reason to believe” that U.S. voters are fed up, but nobody has yet told us
what any of those reasons are. Until we hear more evidence, our best bet is to figure that the
quotation mainly reflects what the writer at the Journal thinks is the proper attitude for U.S. voters.
Without a context, such assertions are meaningless.
Remember: Proof surrogates are just that—surrogates. They are not real proof or evidence.
Such proof or evidence may exist, but until it has been presented, the claim at issue remains
unsupported. At best, proof surrogates suggest sloppy research; at worst, they suggest
“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one
fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly—it must confine itself to a few points
and repeat them over and over.” (Joseph Goebbles, Nazi Minister of Propaganda)
“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” (Vladimir Lenin, Russian revolutionary)
We don’t want to set Goebbles and Lenin up as models for critical thinking, but we are forced to
admit that both had huge success at convincing large numbers of people to believe what they
wanted them to believe. And the technique of repetition, simply making the same point over and
over at every opportunity, was a main tool in their various campaigns. Similarly, in advertising and
in politics today the constant repetition of a theme seems eventually to have a dulling effect on our
critical faculties, and we can become lulled into believing something simply because we’ve
become used to hearing it. A critical thinker needs to remember: it takes evidence and argument
to provide believability; if a claim is not likely to be true on the first hearing, simple repetition does
not make it more likely on the hundredth.
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Exercise 5­5
Identify any rhetorical devices you find in these passages that were described in the previous four
sections of the text (ridicule/sarcasm, hyperbole, proof surrogates). Not every example may contain
such a device.
Medical school, huh? Right. You and your fancy 2.9 grade point are going to get
into a fine medical school all right.
Laboratory tests have shown that Cloyon produces a sweeter taste than any other
artificial sweetener.
I’ll tell you, there’s never been anybody in the entire state of Florida as blitzed as
Tom and I were last night.
Anybody who understands how alcohol works can tell you that three drinks is
enough to make that guy seriously impaired.
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles chart, it takes only three drinks to
impair somebody his size.
“Cable news has gone round the bend: The only thing you hear on Fox News is
right­wing rants, and the only thing you hear on MSNBC are left­wing rants.”
That the president is a Marxist simply cannot be denied by any serious observer
of contemporary politics.
In the 1988 U.S. presidential election, campaigners for Democrat Michael
Dukakis took a photograph of Dukakis in an M1 Abrams Tank. The photo was
supposed to shore up Dukakis’s credentials as strong on defense. Unfortunately,
Dukakis had a silly grin and was wearing a helmet too large for his head, and the
effect of the photograph was to make him appear diminutive and goofy. The
photo was widely shown in the months preceding the election—but not by the
Dukakis people. Instead, it was picked up and shown by his opponent, George H.
W. Bush. After looking at the photo at the following link, state which technique was
being used by the Bush campaign:
If you want to work your way up from being a hostess to being a server at The
Cheesecake Factory, plan on it taking about a thousand years.
The proposal isn’t bad when you consider it comes from a group of knuckle­
dragging morons.
Persuasion Using Visual Images
Before the digital age, it was much easier to take photographic evidence at face value. Even then,
however, all kinds of things could be done to manipulate an image and a viewer’s perception of
what was taking place. But some photos and videos do not need any manipulation at all to produce
a mistaken impression in the viewer. You might recall that, in 2005, a Florida woman named Terri
Schiavo became the center of a controversy regarding whether she was in a “persistent vegetative
state” (PVS) and could ever be expected to regain consciousness, never mind recover. Videotape
made by family members sometimes appeared to show her responding to the presence of her
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mother. Bill Frist, himself a heart surgeon and at that time majority leader of the U.S. Senate, saw
the tape and claimed that Ms. Schiavo seemed to be responding to visual stimuli. Other doctors,
including her own, said that the facial expressions some took as conscious response were often
exhibited by those in a PVS and were not signs of awareness. After her death, an autopsy showed
that Ms. Schiavo’s brain had shrunk to half its normal size, and what was left was severely
damaged, including her visual cortex—she had been blind for some time before her death. The
likelihood of her having anything like consciousness near the end was virtually a medical
We describe this story to illustrate how a piece of videotape can be ambiguous—that is, it can
be open to more than one interpretation. What appeared to be the case to some viewers turned
out to be a mistaken impression—leading them to make claims that turned out to be false.
(Photos, videos, and other imagery technically cannot be true or false; but claims based on such
imagery are true or false.)
As we said earlier, though, some people are not willing to let well enough alone. They perform
image manipulations of various sorts to try to create mistaken impressions. Following is a list of
tricks from the website .
Deliberately manipulating an image (e.g., adding, deleting, combining)
Using unaltered images but with misleading captions
Deliberately selected camera angles that distort information
Lack of authority (i.e., author name, credentials); inconsistency when compared to
official images
Stills taken from movies: out of context, they are given false descriptions
Stills taken of models purported to be the real thing
Stills that are genuine and unadulterated but “staged”
100% digital fabrications
In the Media: Now You See Him—Now You Don’t
© AP Photo/Anat Givon
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
Hu Jintao greets Deng Xiaoping in versions of the photo, from above clockwise,
featuring a blurred audience, a dark background and with Jiang Zemin.
In the Media: The Daschle Salute
This looks like a big­time “Oops!” moment for Tom Daschle, former majority leader in the
U.S. Senate. In fact, as explained in the text, it is a clever attempt to influence opinion
against Daschle through photo manipulation.
The photos in the box “Now You See Him—Now You Don’t” on the previous page are from Hong
Kong’s newspaper, The Standard, from September 2, 2004. The original photo (lower right)
showed China’s then paramount leader Deng Xiaoping (in the gray jacket on the right) shaking
hands with Hu Jintao (wearing the tie), who has been China’s president since 2003. The person
between them in the original photo is former President Jiang Zemin. We don’t know what might
have become of Jiang’s reputation (he continued in high office for some years after the photo was
made), but his image suffered a disappearing act.
In the next box, “The Daschle Salute,” it looks as though Tom Daschle (the majority leader in the
Senate at the time) doesn’t know how to salute the flag or doesn’t know his right hand from his left.
In reality, he did it correctly, but someone reversed his image, flipping it right­to­left so that he
appeared to be saluting with his left hand rather than his right. There are two clues to the doctoring
that went on in this photo. It would take not just a critical thinker but a sharp eye to spot them. The
first is that Daschle is married and wears a wedding ring. If this were really his left hand, one would
see his ring. The second clue is more convincing. It’s that his coat is buttoned backwards: Men’s
clothing always has buttons on the right side of the garment, so it’s the left side that closes over the
right. In the photo, the right side of Daschle’s jacket closes over the left, indicating that it isn’t just
his hand that is on the wrong side, his clothing would have to be reversed, too!
In Depth: Don’t Get Carried Away!
Once you’re familiar with the ways slanting devices are used to try to influence us, you
may be tempted to dismiss a claim or argument just because it contains strongly
slanted language. But true claims as well as false ones, good reasoning as well as bad,
can be couched in such language. Remember that the slanting itself gives us no reason
to accept a position on an issue; that doesn’t mean that there are no such reasons.
Consider this example, written by someone opposed to using animals for laboratory
It’s morally wrong for a person to inflict awful pain on another sensitive
creature, one that has done the first no harm. Therefore, the so­called
scientists who perform their hideous and sadistic experiments on innocent
animals are moral criminals just as were Hitler and his Nazi torturers.
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
Before we dismiss this passage as shrill or hysterical, it behooves us as critical thinkers
to notice that it contains a piece of reasoning that may shed light on the issue.
We would not expect your typical newspaper reader or web surfer to be able to identify
manipulated photos wherever they appear. We certainly couldn’t do it, and some images are so
carefully done nobody could spot the problem with them.* So, what is a critically thinking person to
do? It’s the same answer you’ve heard before in these pages: Be careful. Be aware that even
though most people mean to be helpful and tell you what they actually believe, a substantial number
of them are out to fool you.
appears to be a wonderful paint­job illusion on the truck pictured above is actually a
Photoshopped illustration. You can see other examples of illustrations on the same truck at­illusion­of­the­day­truck­art/.
Things to remember from this chapter:
Persuasion is the attempt to win someone to one’s own point of view.
Rhetoric seeks to persuade through the use of the emotive power of language.
Although it can exert a profound psychological influence, rhetoric has no logical force; only an
argument has logical force—i.e., can prove or support a claim.
There are a multitude of rhetorical devices in common use; they include the following:
Euphemisms: seek to mute the disagreeable aspects of something or to emphasize its
agreeable aspects
Dysphemisms: seek to emphasize the disagreeable aspects of something
Weaselers: words and phrases that protect a claim by weakening it
Downplayers: techniques for toning down the importance of something
Stereotypes: unwarranted and oversimplified generalizations about the members of a
group or class
Innuendo: using words with neutral or positive associations to insinuate something
Loaded questions: questions that depend on unwarranted assumptions
Ridicule and sarcasm: widely used to put something in a bad light
Hyperbole: overdone exaggeration
Rhetorical definitions and explanations: used to create favorable or unfavorable
attitudes about something
Rhetorical analogies and misleading comparisons: these devices persuade by making
inappropriate connections between terms.
Proof surrogates suggest there is evidence or authority for a claim without actually
saying what the evidence or authority is
Repetition: hearing or reading a claim over and over can sometimes mistakenly
encourage the belief that it is true
These devices can affect our thinking in subtle ways, even when we believe we are being
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
Some of these devices, especially euphemisms and weaselers, have valuable, nonprejudicial
uses as well as a slanting one. Only if we are speaking, writing, listening, and reading
carefully can we distinguish prejudicial uses of these devices.
Although photographs and other images are not claims or arguments, they can enter into
critical thinking by offering evidence of the truth or falsity of claims. They can also affect us
psychologically in a manner analogous to that by which the emotive meaning of language
affects us, and often even more powerfully.
Additional Exercises
Exercise 5­6
You will want to recognize when someone is using rhetorical slanting devices to influence your
attitudes and beliefs. Let’s see if you can identify some of the more common devices. Select the
best answer.
“Making a former corporate CEO the head of the Securities and Exchange
Commission is like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse.” This is best seen as
an example of
“Right. George Bush ‘won’ the election in 2000, didn’t he?” The use of quotation
marks around “won” has the effect of a
rhetorical explanation
not a slanter
“The obvious truth is that bilingual education has been a failure.” In this statement,
“the obvious truth” might best be viewed as
rhetorical analogy
rhetorical explanation
not a slanter
a proof surrogate
a weaseler
a dysphemism
not a slanter
After George W. Bush announced he wanted to turn a substantial portion of the
federal government operation over to private companies, Bobby L. Harnage Sr.,
president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said Bush had
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
“declared all­out war on federal employees.” Would you say that the quoted
passage is
“Harry and his daughter had a little discussion about her outfit . . . one that left her
in tears.”
a dysphemism
a proof surrogate
no slanters
President Obama promised change, but he has continued to turn government
operations over to private companies, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, just like
his predecessor did.
a downplayer
a dysphemism
a proof surrogate
a loaded question
hyperbole and a loaded question
“Can Governor Evans be believed when he says he will fight for the death
penalty? You be the judge.” This statement contains
a loaded question
a euphemism
both a and b
neither a nor b
“Before any more of my tax dollars go to the military, I’d like answers to some
questions, such as why are we spending billions of dollars on weapons programs
that don’t work?” This statement contains an example of
a rhetorical explanation
a euphemism
a weaseler
hyperbole/a rhetorical analogy
not a slanter
a dysphemism
a loaded question
a proof surrogate
no slanter
“Studies confirm what everyone knows: smaller classes make kids better
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
—Bill Clinton
This statement contains:
a proof surrogate
a weaseler
an innuendo
no slanter
MAN SELLING HIS CAR: “True, it has a few dents, but that’s just normal wear
and tear.” This statement contains what might best be called
a loaded question
a dysphemism
a euphemism
Exercise 5­7
Determine which of the numbered, italicized words and phrases are used as
rhetorical devices in the following passage. If the item fits one of the text’s
categories of rhetorical devices, identify it as such.
The National Rifle Association’s campaign to arm every man, woman,
and child in America(1) received a setback when the president signed
the Brady Bill. But the gun­pushers(2) know that the bill was only a small
skirmish in a big war(3) over guns in America. They can give up some of
their more fanatical(4) positions on such things as assault weapons(5)
and cop­killer bullets(6) and still win on the one that counts: regulation of
manufacture and sale of handguns.
Exercise 5­8
Follow the directions for Exercise 5­7.
The big money guys(1) who have smuggled(2) the Rancho Vecino
development onto the November ballot will stop at nothing to have
this town run just exactly as they want.(3) It is possible(4) that Rancho
Vecino will cause traffic congestion on the east side of town, and it’s
perfectly clear that(5) the number of houses that will be built will
overload the sewer system. But(6) a small number of individuals have
taken up the fight. Can the developers be stopped in their desire to
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
wreck our town?(7)
Exercise 5­9
Follow the directions for Exercise 5­7.
The U.S. Congress has cut off funds for the superconducting supercollider that the
scientific establishment(1) wanted to build in Texas. The alleged(2) virtues of the
supercollider proved no match for the huge(3) cost overruns(4) that had piled up like a
mountain alongside a sea of red ink.(5) Despite original estimates of five to six billion
dollars, the latest figure was over eleven billion and growing faster than weeds.(6)
Exercise 5­10
Read the passage below and answer the questions that follow it. Your instructor may have further
Another quality that makes [Texas Republican Tom] DeLay an un­Texas pol is that he’s
mean. By and large, Texas pols are an agreeable set of less­than­perfect humans and
quite often well intentioned. As Carl Parker of Port Arthur used to observe, if you took
all the fools out of the [legislature], it would not be a representative body any longer. The
old sense of collegiality was strong, and vindictive behavior—punishing pols for
partisan reasons—was simply not done. But those are Tom DeLay’s specialties, his
trademarks. The Hammer is not only genuinely feared in Washington, he is, I’m sorry to
say, hated.
Excerpt from a column by Molly Ivins, Ft. Worth Star­Telegram
What issue is the author addressing?
What position does the author take on that issue?
If the author supports this position with an argument, state that argument in your
own words.
Does the author use rhetorical devices discussed in this chapter? If so, classify
any that fall into the categories described in this chapter.
Exercise 5­11
Follow the directions for Exercise 5­10, using the same list of questions.
Schools are not a microcosm of society, any more than an eye is a microcosm of the
body. The eye is a specialized organ which does something that no other part of the
body does. That is its whole significance. You don’t use your eyes to lift packages or
steer automobiles. Specialized organs have important things to do in their own
specialties. So schools, which need to stick to their special work as well, should not
become social or political gadflies.
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
Thomas Sowell
Exercise 5­12
Follow the directions for Exercise 5­10, using the same list of questions.
Here is what I believe: The country has just witnessed an interlude of religious hysteria,
encouraged and exploited by political quackery. The political cynicism of Republicans
shocked the nation. But even more alarming is the enthusiasm of self­described “pro­
life” forces for using the power of the state to impose their obtuse moral distinctions on
the rest of us. The Catholic Church and many Protestant evangelicals are acting as
partisan political players in a very dangerous manner. Once they have mobilized
zealots to their moral causes, they can expect others to fight back in the same blind,
intolerant manner.
William Greider, “Pro­Death Politics,” the Nation, April 2, 2005
Exercise 5­13
Follow the directions for Exercise 5­10, using the same list of questions.
Asked whether he would be resigning, [U.N. Secretary General Kofi] Annan replied,
“Hell, no. I’ve got lots of work to do, and I’m going to go ahead and do it.” That’s
doubtful. His term is up at the end of 2006, and few—after the mess he’s caused—take
him seriously. He may have a lot of “work” he’d like to do, but he won’t be permitted to
do it. All around Annan is the wreckage of the U.N.’s spirit of high­level cronyism.
Editorial in the National Review Online, April 1, 2005
Exercise 5­14
Follow the directions for Exercise 5­10, using the same list of questions.
“It is not the job of the state, and it is certainly not the job of the school, to tell parents
when to put their children to bed,” declared David Hart of the National Association of
Head Teachers, responding to David Blunkett’s idea that parents and teachers should
draw up “contracts” (which you could be fined for breaching) about their children’s
behavior, time­keeping, homework and bedtime. Teachers are apparently concerned
that their five­to­eight­year­old charges are staying up too late and becoming listless
truants the next day.
While I sympathize with Mr. Hart’s concern about this neo­Stalinist nannying, I wonder
whether it goes far enough. Is it not high time that such concepts as Bathtime,
Storytime and Drinks of Water were subject to regulation as well? I for one would value
some governmental guidance as to the number of humorous swimming toys (especially
Hungry Hippo) allowable per gallon of water. Adopting silly voices while reading Spot’s
Birthday or Little Rabbit Foo­Foo aloud is something crying out for regulatory
guidelines, while the right of children to demand and receive wholly unnecessary
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
glasses of liquid after lights­out needs a Statutory Minimum Allowance.
John Walsh, the Independent
Exercise 5­15
Choose which answer is best from among the alternatives provided.
“Yes, there may be instances of abuse connected with the new immigration law.
But on the whole it will help Arizona deal with a serious problem.” This contains:
a. a downplayer
b. a proof surrogate
c. hyperbole
“Liberals need to understand the global health argument for abortion is deeply
offensive. It is like fighting disease by killing everyone who has a disease.” This
“Why does Senator Schmidt collect child pornography? Only the Senator can
answer that.” This contains:
a loaded question
a euphemism
a dysphemism
none of the above
“Does Senator Schmidt collect child pornography? Only the Senator can answer
that.” This contains:
a euphemism
a dysphemism
a rhetorical definition
none of the above
a downplayer
a euphemism
a stereotype
“Better lock up your whisky before Patrick gets here. Didn’t you know he is Irish?”
This contains:
a loaded question
a rhetorical definition
a stereotype
a euphemism.
none of the above
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
“Ecology? I will tell you what ecology is. Ecology is the Marxist ‘science’ that tries
to shove bogus facts about global warming down everyone’s throat.” This
a. a rhetorical definition
b. a rhetorical explanation
c. a rhetorical analogy
“Ecology? I will tell you what ecology is. Ecology is the Marxist ‘science’ that tries
to shove bogus facts about global warming down everyone’s throat.” The
quotation marks around “science” are
“Ecology? I will tell you what ecology is. Ecology is the Marxist ‘science’ that tries
to shove bogus facts about global warming down everyone’s throat.” “Marxist”
and “bogus” are
proof surrogates
rhetorical comparisons
none of these
“The reason Republicans oppose health care is they don’t care about anyone
except their friends in the insurance industry.” “Don’t care about anyone except” is
a proof surrogate
a downplayer
a stereotype

a rhetorical definition
a rhetorical explanation
a rhetorical analogy
none of these
“Rush Limbaugh doesn’t make things up? C’mon, you know as well as I do he
makes things up.” This contains:
a stereotype
a proof surrogate
Exercise 5­16
Identify any rhetorical devices you find in the following selections, and classify those that fit the
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
categories described in the text. For each, explain its function in the passage.
I trust you have seen Janet’s file and have noticed the “university” she graduated
The original goal of the Milosevic government in Belgrade was ethnic cleansing in
Obamacare: The compassion of the IRS and the efficiency of the post office, all at
Pentagon prices.
Although it has always had a bad name in the United States, socialism is nothing
more or less than democracy in the realm of economics.
We’ll have to work harder to get Representative Burger reelected because of his
little run­in with the law.
It’s fair to say that, compared with most people his age, Mr. Beechler is pretty
much bald.
During World War II, the U.S. government resettled many people of Japanese
ancestry in internment camps.
“Overall, I think the gaming industry would be a good thing for our state.”
—From a letter to the editor, Plains Weekly Record
Capitalism, after all, is nothing more or less than freedom in the realm of
I’ll tell you what capitalism is: Capitalism is Charlie Manson sitting in Folsom
Prison for all those murders and still making a bunch of bucks off T­shirts.
Clearly, Antonin Scalia is the most corrupt Supreme Court justice in the history
of the country.
If MaxiMotors gave you a good price on that car, you can bet there’s only one
reason they did it: It’s a piece of serious junk.
It may well be that many faculty members deserve some sort of pay increase.
Nevertheless, it is clearly true that others are already amply compensated.
“The only people without [cable or satellite TV] are Luddites and people too old
to appreciate it.”
—Todd Mitchell, industry analyst
I love some of the bulleting and indenting features of Microsoft Word. I think it
would have been a nice feature, however, if they had made it easy to turn some
of them off when you don’t need them.
Exercise 5­17
Identify any rhetorical devices you find in the following passage, and classify any that fit into the
categories described in this chapter.
On March 11, the U.S. Senate passed the bankruptcy bill that will fill the coffers of the
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
credit card companies while bleeding consumers dry.
The bill passed by a whopping 74 to 25 margin, with eighteen Democratic Senators
going over to the dark side.
Here are the spineless 18: [There follows a list of senators.]
“This is not where we as Democrats ought to be, for crying out loud,” as Senator Tom
Harkin noted. “We are making a terrible mistake by thinking that we can have it both
ways. We have to remember where our base is.”
This bill is a fantasy come true for credit card companies, which have been pushing it
for years. But it’s not as though they’re suffering. The made $30 billion in profits last
The bill severely limits the ability of consumers to wipe away some of their debts and
get a fresh start.
Half the people who file for bankruptcy do so because of sky­high medical bills, and
another 40 percent do so because of disability, job loss, family death, or divorce,
according to the National Consumer Law Center. If you make more than the median
income in your state, no matter how high your bills are, you can’t wipe the debts clean.
As a result, debtors will be at much greater risk of losing their cars or their homes.
And even if your debts are the consequence of identity theft, of someone stealing your
credit card and running up charges, you still are on the hook for them, as the Senate
amazingly voted down an amendment to shelter victims of identity theft.
Matthew Rothschild, “Democratic Senators Cave on Bankruptcy Bill,” The
Progressive, March 12, 2005
Exercise 5­18
Identify any rhetorical devices you find in the following passages, and explain their purposes. Note:
Some items may contain no rhetorical devices.
“If the United States is to meet the technological challenge posed by Japan, Inc.,
we must rethink the way we do everything from design to manufacture to
education to employee relations.”
According to UNICEF reports, several thousand Iraqi children died each month
because of the U.N. sanctions.
Maybe Professor Daguerre’s research hasn’t appeared in the first­class journals
as recently as that of some of the other professors in his department; that doesn’t
necessarily mean his work is going downhill. He’s still a terrific teacher, if the
students I’ve talked to are to be believed.
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
“Let’s put it this way: People who make contributions to my campaign fund get
access. But there’s nothing wrong with constituents having access to their
representatives, is there?”
—Loosely paraphrased from an interview with a California state senator
In the 2000 presidential debates, Al Gore consistently referred to his own tax
proposal as a “tax plan” and to George W. Bush’s tax proposal as a “tax
[Note: Dr. Jack Kevorkian was instrumental in assisting a number of terminally ill
people in committing suicide during the 1990s.] “We’re opening the door to
Pandora’s Box if we claim that doctors can decide if it’s proper for someone to
die. We can’t have Kevorkians running wild, dealing death to people.”
—Larry Bunting, assistant prosecutor, Oakland County, Michigan
“LOS ANGELES—Marriott Corp. struck out with patriotic food workers at Dodger
Stadium when the concession­holder ordered them to keep working instead of
standing respectfully during the National Anthem. . . . Concession stand manager
Nick Kavadas . . . immediately objected to a Marriott representative.
“Marriott subsequently issued a second memo on the policy. It read: ‘Stop all
activities while the National Anthem is being played.’
“Mel Clemens, Marriott’s general manager at the stadium, said the second
memo clarified the first memo.”
—Associated Press
These so­called forfeiture laws are a serious abridgment of a person’s
constitutional rights. In some states, district attorneys’ offices have only to claim
that a person has committed a drug­related crime to seize the person’s assets.
So fat­cat DAs can get rich without ever getting around to proving that anybody is
guilty of a crime.
“A few years ago, the deficit got so horrendous that even Congress was
embarrassed. Faced with this problem, the lawmakers did what they do best.
They passed another law.”
—Abe Mellinkoff, in the San Francisco Chronicle
“[U]mpires are baseball’s designated grown­ups and, like air­traffic controllers,
are paid to handle pressure.”
—George Will
“Last season should have made it clear to the moguls of baseball that
something still isn’t right with the game—something that transcends residual fan
anger from the players’ strike. Abundant evidence suggests that baseball still
has a long way to go.”
—Stedman Graham, Inside Sports
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
“As you know, resolutions [in the California State Assembly] are about as
meaningful as getting a Publishers’ Clearinghouse letter saying you’re a winner.”
—Greg Lucas, in the San Francisco Chronicle
The entire gain in the stock market in the first four months of the year was due to
a mere fifty stocks.
Thinkers who entertain the possibility that there are lots of universes have
invented a new term for the entire ensemble: “the multiverse.” Why believe in the
multiverse? The “pro” camp has essentially two kinds of arguments.
—Jim Holt, Slate online magazine
“[Supreme Court Justice Antonin] Scalia’s ideology is a bald and naked concept
called ‘Majoritarianism.’ Only the rights of the majority are protected.”
—Letter to the editor of the San Luis Obispo Telegram­Tribune
“Mimi Rumpp stopped praying for a winning lottery ticket years ago. . . . But after
a doctor told her sister Miki last year that she needed a kidney transplant, the
family began praying for a donor. . . . Less than a year later, Miki has a new
kidney, courtesy of a bank teller in Napa, Calif., to whom she had told her story.
The teller was the donor; she was so moved by Miki’s plight she had herself
tested and discovered she was a perfect match. Coincidence? Luck? Divine
intervention? Rumpp is sure: ‘It was a miracle.’”
“We are about to witness an orgy of self­congratulation as the self­appointed
environmental experts come out of their yurts, teepees, and grant­maintained
academic groves to lecture us over the impending doom of the planet and agree
with each other about how it is evil humanity and greedy ‘big business’ that is
responsible for it all.”
—Tim Worstall, in New Times
“In the 1980s, Central America was awash in violence. Tens of thousands of
people fled El Salvador and Guatemala as authoritarian governments seeking
to stamp out leftist rebels turned to widespread arrests and death squads.”
—USA Today
Exercise 5­19
Discuss the following stereotypes in class. Do they invoke the same kind of images for everyone?
Which are negative and which are positive? How do you think they came to be stereotypes? Is
there any “truth” behind them?
soccer mom
Religious Right
dumb blonde
Critical Thinking, Ch. 5 ­ Learning Activity ­ Week2 ­ PHL/320 ­ eCampus
tax­and­spend liberal
homosexual agenda
radical feminist
contented housewi…
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